Biological and conventional weapons still ok for Syria

While President Barack Obama (D) has "red lines" about the use of chemical weapons in Syria apparently he doesn't have any lines of any color for biological weapons not to mention conventional weapons.  Children and women horribly dying from use of the latter two weapons don't seem to bother him; nothing was mentioned about them in the recent agreement with Russia and Syria about disposing Syria's chemical weapons. 

According to a report in the Times of Israel:

Syrian President Bashar Assad has two biological weapons bases, developing anthrax and other devastating biological agents, and yet the US-Russia deal aimed at stripping his regime of chemical weapons makes no provisions for his biological weapons capability, Israeli TV reported Sunday night.

There is "not a word" about biological weapons in the agreement that US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday, Channel 10 news said.

So exactly what kind of biological weapons could Syria have? Botulinum, ricin and maybe even anthrax. All very deadly.

A 2008 report on Syrian WMDs, by Anthony Cordesman of the US Center for Strategic and International Studies, went further, citing Israeli sources. According to Israel, Cordesman wrote, "Syria weaponized botulinum and ricin toxins in the early 1990s, and probably anthrax."

He noted "reports of one underground facility and one near the coast," cited a "possible production capability for anthrax and botulism, and possibly other agents," and mentioned "limited indications [Syria] may be developing or testing biological variations on ZAB-incendiary bombs and PTAB-500 cluster bombs and Scud warheads."

The Cordesman report noted that "using advanced agents - such as the most lethal forms of anthrax - can have the effectiveness of small theater nuclear weapons.

Therefore, not all of Congress is applauding the deal with Russia and Assad.  Obama will probably dismiss this criticism as another example of Republican partisanship foiling his grand presidency.

On Friday, Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) wrote to President Barack Obama to warn that "omitting Assad's bioweapons from any agreement would represent a gaping hole in the plan." Such weaponry, in the hands of Assad or his allies, wrote Cornyn, "represent a direct security threat" to the US and its allies. If Hezbollah and other terror groups got hold of this materiel, he warned, "this would be a direct threat to the United States and our allies, particularly Israel."

So that is one reason why there is no widespread relief over the agreement.  And here is another: because the plan to destroy Syria's chemical weapons doesn't take effect immediately Syria has plenty of time to shuffle them off to other countries as has been reported.  Oh, and by the way, besides trusting Assad to state that of course, absolutely, positively, truthfully I disposed completely of my nasty chemical weapons there are no trustworthy methods of guaranteeing Syria's total compliance. 

Meanwhile, back in Syria, as negotiations over restricting the use of chemical weapons continued, conventional weapons used by the multiple sides in this vicious civil war killed at least 1000 people last week according to Liz Sly of the Washington Post.

BEIRUT -- As negotiations to avert a U.S. strike against Syria ramped up last week, so, too, did the action on the ground. Warplanes dropped bombs over far-flung Syrian towns that hadn't seen airstrikes in weeks, government forces went on the attack in the hotly contested suburbs of Damascus, rebels launched an offensive in the south, and a historic Christian town changed hands at least four times.

At the close of a week hailed in Moscow and Washington as a triumph of diplomacy over war, more than 1,000 people died in the fighting in Syria, the latest casualties in a conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people and can be expected to claim many more.

Ironically, the no more crossed red line promises may have made it easier for all Syrian groups to continue the bloodshed.

Indeed, some analysts fear that the deal struck in Geneva between Russia and the United States over a mechanism to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons arsenal may actually prolong a war being fought over issues far more profound than the parameters of a specific weapons program.

The poison gas attack that killed hundreds of people in the suburbs of Damascus last month accounted for fewer than 1 percent of the deaths in the 2 1/2-year-old Syrian conflict. Meanwhile, both sides are stepping up conventional attacks in the absence of any sign of a broader settlement.

And the Arab Spring continues.